FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 12, 2023
GRACE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH ANNOUNCES CONSTRUCTION OF TABLE OF GRACE, TUSCALOOSA’S FIRST MARKET-STYLE FOOD PANTRY
Grace Presbyterian Church, [A Home For Progressive Christians] is excited to announce that construction has begun on Table of Grace, Tuscaloosa’s first. “client choice market-style food pantry.”
Construction began February 13, 2023 on the corner of Hargrove Road and Prince Avenue, across the street from the church. Table of Grace is on track for completion in the late summer of 2023 and the new market-style food pantry will open in early fall. This reinvention of the church’s current Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry will allow clients to select from inventory provided by the West Alabama Food Bank and other donations. Clients can exercise freedom of choice and the market-style process avoids waste.
“At Table of Grace, we will still have the same foods that we have now, but clients will choose what they put in their bags.” noted Jennifer Shepard, Food Pantry Director. “We will be able to offer a greater variety to choose from, and include items that address health/diet issues. Right now, everybody receives a similar bag, and substitutions are not possible.”
Table of Grace will also expand the church food ministry with a community gleaning program, an orchard, and a community garden. These programs offer more fresh produce to clients. Expansion will call for more volunteers and partnerships with other organizations in Tuscaloosa.
Brooke Peterson, a Grace member working to organize the new garden, explained “We plan to be able to add seasonal fresh fruits and vegetables to this selection from food we grow in a garden and from a network of growing and gleaning throughout the area. We will need volunteers for food distribution on a weekly basis. We will need people to help stock and organize the food. We will need gardeners and community organizers.”
Table of Grace is the next step in the growth of both the feeding ministry and Grace Presbyterian church as a whole. The feeding ministry has a two-decade history, dating back to the founding of the Deacon’s Food Pantry in 2002 at the former University Presbyterian Church. When University Presbyterian (near the University of Alabama campus) merged with Covenant Presbyterian Church in 2016 to form Grace Presbyterian, the feeding ministry became the Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry, one of the most important ministries for the newly formed congregation. “When the church thought about what it wanted to do with those funds, we knew we wanted to use them for people outside of Grace, rather than on ourselves. We wanted to make a major investment in this community,” said Linda Grote, a member of Grace who serves on the Table of Grace Task Force overseeing construction. With increased freezer, refrigeration, and storage space, Table of Grace hopes to offer more food to more families in the community. The current Food Pantry serves 250-300 households – approximately 600-800 people – monthly. In 2022, the pantry gave away over 85,000 pounds of food. Anyone who qualifies for SNAP, TANF, SSI automatically qualifies to receive food from the pantry for free and others may qualify if they meet certain income eligibility requirements. For those who don’t meet any of those requirements, the church offers emergency food bags. “Table of Grace reflects who we are as a church,” stated Emily Altman, chairperson of Grace’s Mission, Peace, and Justice Committee. “We are a church that feeds God’s people.”
Media inquiries can be directed to:
GPC Communications Committee
The Loaves & Fishes Food Pantry is a mission of Grace Presbyterian Church and serves about 700 people each month. The Food Pantry distributes food that is purchased from the West Alabama Food Bank. Each year, Grace Presbyterian Church holds an “Empty Bowls” fundraiser where 100% of the proceeds support the Food Pantry.
Loaves & Fishes is located at Grace Presbyterian Church, 113 Hargrove Road, Tuscaloosa.
Hours of Operation
The Food Pantry distributes food the 2nd Tuesday of every month. Those in need may pick up food between the hours of 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM. Distribution day check-in begins in the church parking lot with distribution going directly into vehicles from outside the Loaves & Fishes Food Pantry doorway.
The pantry accepts donations of non-perishable items including canned goods, grains, pastas, etc. The pantry also has a need for grocery bags. Donations can be made by leaving items in the food pantry basket at the back of the sanctuary each Sunday or during normal hours of operation.
Thank you for your financial and material support of this ministry, which is truly vital in all three senses of the term: vital in the sense of serving a critical need, vital in the sense of giving life, and vital in the sense of flourishing.
Many volunteers are needed each month both for distribution days and for stocking the pantry and for bagging food. For more information and/or to volunteer, contact the Volunteer Coordinator, Susan Donovan: firstname.lastname@example.org or the Food Pantry manager, Jennifer Sheppard: email@example.com. Or, contact the church office: 205-758-1193; office@gracetuscaloosa.